Pure Telecom focused on making real connection with customers
Sean Gallagher meets owners of small and medium-sized businesses and shares the lessons they've learnt in building their companies
Pure Telecom is a wholly owned Irish telecoms company that provides fixed line, broadband and cloud telecoms to the business and consumer markets. Set up in 2002 by Paul Connell and Alan McGonnell and located in City West Business Campus, the company employs 100 staff and has annual revenues of more than €20m.
"We differentiate ourselves by providing a personal, flexible, lower cost and dependable service designed around the unique needs of our customers who include everyone from consumers and startups to large pharmaceutical clients," says Paul.
The company has successfully grown its customer base to more than 50,000 customers of which 20pc are businesses and 80pc are consumers.
"Continuous investment in the most up-to-date contact centre systems, as well as a focus on rapid customer service reaction times and reduced downtimes for customers, has helped ensure we have a high customer retention rate," says Paul.
Paul grew up in Churchtown in Dublin. His father ran his own engineering business and he recalls many summer holidays spent learning to fit and weld. As a teenager - and keen to earn his own money - Paul engaged in everything from golf caddying to selling miniature Christmas trees door-to-door.
He went on to complete a degree in business studies at the College of Commerce, Rathmines, before joining accounting firm, BDO Simpson Xavier in 1991 where he qualified as a chartered accountant. He later left to join Iretex Packaging as group financial controller in 1995 and was involved in having the company listed on the London Stock Exchange.
"By 1998 the printing and packaging sector had hit a bit of a downturn so I decided to take a job as financial director of a US multinational telecoms company, Global Telesystems (GTS) which had a base in Cork. While I sort of fell in to the world of telecoms, it was here that I first got to know Alan," says Paul. "Alan had grown up in south Dublin and went to Terenure College before studying law in UCD. Having initially joined a large Dublin law firm, he quickly realised it wasn't for him and moved to a sales role in GTS before eventually becoming the company's commercial director," he adds.
Having spotted what they saw was an opening in the market to provide broadband and fixed line services to Irish corporates and SMEs, the pair joined forces and in 2002 set up Pure Telecom.
"Putting our entrepreneurial brains together and drawing on our combined experience in the telecoms industry, we saw this as a potentially recession-proof business model. Starting out with four staff in a small office in Ranelagh, we had moved from having the plush corporate office environment to where we were now - drawing lots for whose job it was to clean the toilets and tidy the office," says Paul.
"We spent our days calling prospective customers directly and attending sales meetings - gradually winning business as we went along. Within about 12 months we realised that we were on the right track."
Acquiring new customers is always the first challenge for any new business and especially for a reseller of telecoms services. However, as they secured their first customers, Paul and Alan used testimonials from these satisfied customers to help land further business. Having initially focused on the corporate market, the pair later diversified into the consumer market following the acquisition of a company called Newtel, in 2007.
Today they have more than 50,000 customers and earlier this year announced a €1.8m investment in a further 32 new jobs.
"I simply love this business," says Paul. "Our customers are our assets and our focus is always on looking after them. Whether they are businesses or consumers, everyone is looking for faster speeds and a better customer experience," he says.
He believes that a key element to the company's success is the relationship and spirit of teamwork that exists between himself and Alan as well as their shared drive to make the business the best it can be.
"We're both working from the same page all the time when it comes to the business and the direction in which it is going. Our desks face each other in the same office so that we can make quick, impactful decisions that ensure that we are always pushing boundaries, rather than reacting to what is happening around us," he says.
Supported by a strong management team and a deeply committed staff, Paul Connell and Alan McGonnell look set to achieve their goal of reaching a target of 100,000 customers and a turnover of €40m within the next three years.
Sunday Indo Business